Three new engineer’s wagons from Hornby.
AFTER DECADES OF being ignored by the ready-to-run manufacturers, the humble engineer’s fleet receives another boost in 4mm scale with the arrival of Hornby’s new trio of late-1980s introduced two-axle departmental ballast/spoil carriers, the ZCV ‘Clam’, ZBA ‘Rudd’ and ZCV ‘Tope’.
The three different types of vehicle are being produced in single ‘pristine’ and three-pack ‘weathered’ versions. First impressions of all three wagons are of hi-fidelity underframes coupled to rather chunky bodies. The same basic chassis is used under all three models, and this sports SKF roller bearing axleboxes and vacuum or air-brake equipment as appropriate. The underframe also features the RCH-style of buffer, with some nicely turned metal heads, but the overscale length of the shank gives it an almost pre-grouping look!
The ‘Rudd’ (pristine No. DB 972007, Cat Ref. R6415, RRP £11.50 & weathered Nos. DB 972004/5/6, Cat Ref. R6416, RRP £30.99) represents a Crump-rebuilt vehicle with an angled base to the corner pillars. The ends are actually separate mouldings to give adequate depth to the vertical struts.
The pre-production version of the ‘Rudd’ illustrated in RAIL EXPRESS Modeller featured the incorrect buffers, so its nice to report that the model does actually sport the correct Oleo buffers. The air cylinder and brake actuator are also well rendered, although the underframe is missing the air-brake distributor.
The ‘Clam’ (pristine No. DB 973108, Cat Ref. R6417, RRP £11.50 & weathered Nos. DB 973105/6/7, Cat Ref. R6418, RRP £30.99) suffers from the same over-thick sides as the ‘Rudd’. The TOPS panel welded onto the bodysides is a spotting feature that marks this out as an example of Powell Duffryn’s handiwork, RFS Doncaster’s allocation having the TOPS information lettered on the solebars.
In ‘OO’ this panel should be paper thin, but it works out around a scale 50mm thick! Both the ‘Clam’ and the ‘Rudd’ have also been given moulded end grabs, which would be less noticeable if Hornby hadn’t overprinted them with electrification warning flashes. Oddly, the vacuum cylinder on the underframe is not connected to anything.
Most welcome is the ‘Tope’ wagon (pristine No. DB 970297, Cat Ref. R6419, RRP £11.50 & weathered Nos. DB 970294/5/6, Cat Ref. R6420, RRP £30.99), which has yet to be produced by Parkside (the Rudd and Clam having been available in kit form for several years). The body is well moulded and the end handrails are particularly good. Produced in fine plastic, they give a decent representation of the complex arrangement of grabs fitted to the ends.
Again, the spoil flaps suffer from being produced in somewhat thick plastic, but the vacuum cylinder looks good, and Hornby has even fitted the vacuum pipe that runs down the side of the wagon – good job as this is a tricky item to fit retrospectively. A fine stab has been made at the thin angled body supports, although their positioning is a little wonky, which slightly detracts from the overall effect.
The vehicles are produced with an as-rebuilt departmental grey and yellow paint finish, mainly representing the pre-shadow privatisation era, circa 1988-94, although there are a few minor errors of application.
The weathering as applied to the three triple-packs is somewhat disappointing. For the period of the liveries, the wagons were still relatively clean, and the overall dusting of light brown muck should have been confined to the chassis. The bodies were showing signs of wear related to their use in conjunction with mechanical grabs that saw them dented, scratched and scuffed in ways that would be difficult for a production line to effectively reproduce.
Price wise these are not the best value, retailing around a couple of quid more than comparable Bachmann two-axle wagons and a little bit more again than a Parkside kit. Of course, what you get for the extra money is a razor sharp paint finish that is almost impossible to match by hand!
These wagons were first reviewed in RAIL EXPRESS Modeller No. 52 (free with RE147).